Solar irrigation policies in India

Different solar irrigation policies in India (Image: IWMI)
Different solar irrigation policies in India (Image: IWMI)

Solar pumps and solar irrigation are not new to India as the first program to install solar pumps started close to three decades back in 1993 by MNRE (Rathore, P.K.S, Das, & Chauhan). In 2010-11, Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) was launched in the country as global awareness and action around climate change strengthened. In the first phase of JNNSM, grid-connected power plants remained the focal point but in phase two, there was significant focus on developing decentralised solar energy capacity. 

Solar pumps, however, remained in the off-grid space, though the focus of JNNSM largely remained on the grid-connected capacity. But as solar pumps evolved, owing to increased affordability and improved technology, they gained a larger footprint in JNNSM, especially since 2014-15, when a dedicated scheme to promote solar pumps for drinking water and irrigation was started. It also promoted integration efforts of various agricultural schemes/policies to enhance agriculture activities' performance.

During the 2018-19 union budget, the finance minister announced Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Surakhahsa evam Uttahan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM). Until then, solar rooftop was the only way of adding decentralised grid-connected solar power, but with PM-KUSUM, the idea of grid-connected solar pumps was also put forward. The scheme has three components:

Component A: Setting up 10,000 MW of decentralized ground/stilt mounted grid-connected solar power plants;

Component B: Installation of 17.50 lakh stand-alone solar agriculture pumps;

Component C: Solarisation of 10 lakh grid-connected agriculture pumps.

The scheme intends to replace diesel and electric pumps with solar pumps in component B and C. Farmers will contribute 40 percent  through  a mix of equity (10 percent)  and loan (30 percent) to acquire the pump and the rest of the capital will be contributed through subsidy by state and central government (30 percent each).

In states like Punjab and Haryana, which are fully irrigated with electric pumps and consequently have higher subsidy burden owing to subsidised electricity supply for irrigation, solarisation of electric pumps under component C of the scheme, may reduce the future subsidies. On the other hand, the eastern region comprising of Bihar, Odhisa, Assam, having largely expensive dieselised irrigation, will get a boost in irrigation expansion with solar pumps. The sync between demand and supply of irrigation and solar energy makes solar irrigation an attractive option for farmers as they can get assured 6-8 hours of uninterrupted electricity. Micro-irrigation such as drip and sprinkler are also being promoted along with solar pumps to improve water use efficiency in few states especially facing water scarcity such as Rajasthan and Punjab.   

Despite many challenges, solar pumping deployment has increased significantly in India in the past few years, primarily driven by government schemes and subsidies. The central and state government schemes have focused on providing innovative financial incentives to attract farmers. Post 2016, the pace of the state-specific policy/scheme announcement picked up. Almost every state except West Bengal got its state-level solar pump scheme in the last five years. In West Bengal, solar pumps are a sub-component under the West Bengal Accelerated Development of Minor Irrigation Project.

Most of the implementing agencies for the solar pump schemes are state-level Renewable Energy Departments working jointly with the Agriculture and Horticulture Departments. However, individual states like Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, Department of Horticulture and Agriculture are solely responsible for implementing the scheme.

MNRE monitors PM-KUSUM scheme's functionality while concocting linkage among SNAs, DISCOMs and other departments (see Grain Mart article). The implementing agency for Component A and C, are State Renewable Energy Department and DISCOMs. For Component B, the Agriculture and Horticulture Department would serve a particular state like Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh.  

Solar irrigation policies in India (state-wise)

S.No 

State

Ministry/Lead Department

Policy/Scheme Name

Link

Date of Issue

1

Rajasthan

Directorate of Horticulture

Hi-tech Technology/For Agriculture Solar Powered Pump Scheme 

Link

2018

2

Andhra Pradesh

New & Renewable Energy Development Corporation of Andhra Pradesh

Andhra Pradesh Solar P V Water Pumping Programme

Link

2014

3

Bihar

Bihar Renewable Energy Development Agency

Bihar Saur Pump Yojana

 

2015

     

Bihar Saur Kranti & Sinchai Yojna

 

2012

4

Chhattisgarh

Chhattisgarh Renewable Energy Development

Saur Sujala Yojana Scheme

   

5

Gujarat

Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Limited

Suryashakti Kisan Yojana 

Link

2018

6

Haryana

Haryana Department of Renewable Energy

Solar Water Pumping Scheme

Link 

2016

7

Himachal Pradesh

Directorate of Agriculture

Saur Sinchaee Yojana

Link

2018

8

Jharkhand

Jharkhand Renewable Energy Development Agency

Solar water Pumping Scheme Programme

Link

2016

9

Karnataka

Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Agency

Surya Raitha Scheme

Link

2014

10

Madhya Pradesh

Department of Horticulture

Mukhyamantri Solar Pump Yojana

Link

 

11

Maharashtra

Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited

Mukhyamantri Solar Pump Yojana Maharashtra

Link

 
 

Maharashtra Energy Development Agency (MEDA)

Atal Solar Krushi Yojana-2

Link

 

12

Orissa

Odisha Renewable Energy Development Agency 

Soura Jalanidhi

Link

2018

15

Uttar Pradesh

Agriculture Department and UP NEDA

Uttar Pradesh Solar Pump Yojana

Link

2016

16

West Bengal

Water Resource Investigation and Development Department

West Bengal Accelerated Development of Minor Irrigation Project

Link

 

 

In 2012, Bihar Saur Kranti and Sinchai Yojana were operationalised. Thereafter, from 2014-2018, many states like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Himachal Pradesh came up with respective state-level solar pump policies to accelerate the adoption of solar energy for irrigation. However, from 2018 onwards, most states except a few like West Bengal are accommodating all the existing solar pump schemes in different PM-KUSUM components. 

 

IWMI

The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) is a non-profit international water management research organisation under the CGIAR with its headquarters in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and offices across Africa and Asia. Research at the Institute focuses on improving how water and land resources are managed, with the aim of underpinning food security and reducing poverty while safeguarding the environment.